The Hygrothermics department is specialized in analyzing the dynamic heat and moisture behavior of building materials and components and whole building complexes. This includes analyzing the energy and moisture behavior of ventilation and air-conditioning systems and their interaction with the building envelope and other hygrothermal storage capacities. Such analyses form the basis for optimized systems technology that is adapted to the planned function of a building.
Material tests are conducted alongside the laboratory analysis of complete building and system components which are modified as required. All-important practical tests include those conducted outdoors under defined boundary conditions, climate simulations in suitable differential climate chambers, and new testing methods specially developed at Fraunhofer IBP.
A large part of the department’s work is also devoted to the development and application of numerical simulation models. Many years of experience with both experimental and computational research methods, enable researchers to comprehensively evaluate energy-related building and systems behavior as well as the climate-related moisture protection of building structures. This experience also leads to their targeted improvement and optimization of building products and the development of innovative building equipment, materials and construction systems.
Architects and construction firms are faced with new challenges resulting from the need to save energy while meeting the growing demands for more comfort, which are both accompanied by the desire to ensure sustainable development in the building sector. These challenges cannot be met without an in-depth understanding of hygrothermal interactions.
The department’s core areas of expertise, supported by its constant expansion of testing facilities and new hygrothermal simulation tools, form the basis for innovative product development. The humidity-controlled vapor retarder now being marketed in many countries is exemplary of the department’s achievements in development, while considerable potential has also been identified for the researchers’ novel cooling fountain. In contrast to conventional decorative fountains, it uses a chilled film of water. In addition to conditioning the air inside the room, this also cools people and objects in the room through the exchange of long-wave radiation. The water film’s low temperature not only leads to effective cooling, but also dehumidifies the air in the room at the same time, creating a pleasant indoor climate even on hot and humid days. It may appear counter-intuitive that air can be dried with water but this happens every time when condensation takes place on cold surfaces. If the temperature of a water film drops below the dew-point of the ambient air vapor condenses on it.